I’m calling BS on every time anyone has ever said that Belize is too expensive.
We heard this from so many people in so many places when we were planning our Central America trip.
To the point where we were even considering skipping Belize altogether.
In the end, as part of our strategy for coping with Central America in the rainy season, we decided a week on the Caribbean coast would be a justifiable extra expense. I mean…if taking a break from the rain in exchange for the warm, drier weather of the coast kept us sane enough to enjoy the next rainy month in Nicaragua, then it’s probably worth splashing the cash, right?
When we got to Belize though, we were in for a pleasant surprise.
How To Travel Belize On A Budget (it’s cheaper than you think)
Far from being the money draining, budget killing, wallet extortionate dollar black hole that everyone had us believing, Belize turned out to be a completely budget friendly country.
Cheap street food is available in most places, and the Caribbean BBQ style is way more meat focused than the type of street food you’d be used to eating in Guatemala and other parts of Central America, so it’s win-win there. You can pick up some good grilled jerk chicken with rice for 10 Belize Dollars / 5USD, and some of the street food we found on the island of Caye Caulker was even cheaper than that – chicken burritos for 3USD, fish taco style things for 4USD.
Random Recommendation – If you’re going to Caye Caulker, make sure you visit ‘the cake lady’. She’s pretty well known on the island and sets up her table every evening on the corner of the turn off for Bella’s Backpackers and Dirty McNasty’s, on your way down to the beach. 5 Belize or 2.50 USD gets you your choice of cakes from her table. We pretty much tried every flavour over the course of our stay there and they’re all awesome.
On top of that, most hostels and budget accommodation throughout the country have kitchens. A budgetter luxury that you’ll struggle to find in neighbouring countries in the region. That means that you can head to one of the many big grocery stores (yes, goodbye little overpriced tiendas) and grab some cheap meals to cook yourself. You’d be surprised how much that helps keep your living costs down, even if you only do it for a few meals here and there.
In terms of drinks, this is probably where your budget could come into difficulties. We weren’t really drinking much when we were on the island, but it’s definitely the kind of place where a cheeky cold one with lunch could turn into an afternoon/evening session on the beach and playing in the bars on the seafront. Beer is cheap-ish (most places will do buckets of 6 beers for around 25 Belize / 12.50 USD, but let’s face it, once you’ve had 6, you’re not stopping there. And that’s a sure fire way to kill the budget.
As far as accommodation goes, you can still pick up dorm beds for around 13 US a night, and most places you’ll visit there have options for private double rooms under the 25 or 30 US mark if you’re travelling in a couple.
So hardly bank breaking stuff, and really not that much more expensive than the rest of Central America.
When we were there we tried to keep our daily living expenses (accommodation, food and drink) to an average of 25USD per person per day, and we didn’t struggle at all doing that. In reality we could have done it cheaper. We eat out quite a lot and didn’t make the best use of the kitchen facilities. This was mainly because we were there at the beginning of the lobster season, just after lobster festival, and the damn grill ups always smelt too good to resist.
Other things you’re likely to spend money on while you’re here are transportation – a local bus from Belize City right down to Placencia in the south costs 14 Belize Dollars / 7USD each, and a ferry from the city out to Caye Caulker will set you back 15USD one way.
So transport isn’t really too much of an extra cost, providing you’re not zooming around and moving location every day, which noone wants to do anyway. We generally stayed for 3 or 4 days in each spot we visited to get to see it properly and to average the transport costs out better. Besides, Belize is all about the slow pace of life anyway and you’ll never find a local in a rush. So do like the locals do and go slow.
After that, you’re only additional expense is added activities or excursions, and costs for those can be as high or as low as you want depending on what your budget allows for you to do. If you’re really trying to watch the purse strings, you don’t have to go splashing heaps of cash on tours and trips. Even without those, Belize is an awesome country to see and experience, and very different to its neighbours. You don’t need an expensive group tour to experience its best bits.
It’s totally possible and completely realistic to travel Belize on a budget of $25-$30 US dollars per day, without doing too many tours/activities.
Like anywhere, if you can budget more, you’ll easily find ways to spend it. But it’s not necessary.
So do me a favour. Next time you hear someone saying Belize is too expensive, call BS on it and stop letting it put people off of visiting this awesome and surprisingly cheap country.
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